It’s Monday at 10 a.m. I enter the Sun City West Posse building as I am working the afternoon shift.
The afternoon shift starts at 11:30 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. I will be working with three other Posse patrol people and one dispatcher. All four of us “on the streets patrolling” during this particular shift are Sheriff Posse members. Two of the four Posse members patrolling today are qualified armed posse persons and will have on additional equipment — a gun, ammunition, bullet proof vest, handcuffs, pepper spray, baton, etc.
The other patrol car and I are unarmed. The dispatcher assigns each of us a portable radio for communicating with them and each other during the shift.
I, as duty officer, have assigned each patrol person a numbered vehicle and provided a patrol log sheet with their assignments, which, we are hopeful, will be completed by the end of the shift.
Sun City West is divided into three divisions. So, each patrol person has a division to patrol (meaning driving all of the streets in the assigned division). During the shift the patrol person will check churches, recreational centers, water wells and golf courses in their assigned division. They will each be checking several vacation watch homes in their division and, of course, driving as many residential streets as possible.
They could be interrupted with 901 calls (to protect the fire equipment and possibly do traffic). It is not unusual to have eight or nine 901 calls during a shift. The patrol staff will also do welfare (well-being) checks and assigned drive-bys, which are special requests by residents due to an approved reason. The patrol people will go to all traffic accidents to protect the accident scene and assist as needed. Patrol people routinely deliver or pick up traffic cones, give directions to lost drivers or possibly protecting a golf car that had a breakdown in a traffic lane or there is debris in the street that blew off a landscaping truck — and the list goes on as their duties are varied and many!
Summer monsoon season brings additional duties, such as shingles blown off roof tops, signs blown down, saguaro cactus and palo verde tree limbs down, skylights blown off, possible street flooding in specific areas. Summers are a difficult time for us because we function with less people (Posse people like to get away, too) and our jobs are busier — many, many vacation houses to check.
As the duty officer, my briefing starts at 11 a.m. and all assignments for the shift are reviewed. All vehicles have been checked out for the necessary equipment and are on the road at 11:30 a.m. to relieve the morning shift, which is entering the compound for debriefing.
The in-house dispatcher on the shift will communicate to each individual patrol by radio, such as 911 or accident locations. For safety reason we check with cars every 30 minutes. Each driver will respond to the dispatcher with their vehicle number. This will ascertain the safety of all individuals on patrol.
All information between the patrol car and dispatcher is done by alphabetical and numerical codes to maintain the integrity of our functions and confidentiality of our residents. For example, a vacant home is never relayed on the radio by address; it is relayed by an assigned code or by telephone.
Each patrol person on the shift has a 30-minute designated break to grab a bite out or go home. An accident, a 911 call out or a welfare check can totally raise chaos with our break times. Consequently, we consider ourselves to be “very flexible” when it comes to our own needs.
It’s 5:30 p.m. and all patrol vehicles head toward the compound to debrief. It is the end of the shift. The night shift is heading out to patrol as the afternoon shift heads in. The two duty officers discuss problems or unfinished assignments. As the shift is ending the patrol people return two sets of car keys, complete their log sheets with mileage, gasoline, any vehicle problems and sign out for the day. The duty officer records information into the computer, completes any necessary paper work, signs off on all of the log sheets and checks each vehicle driven during the shift for security purposes.
The shift is done and the beat goes on.
A note to residents: We would like to invite all Sun City West residents to become a part of our team. We are only able to patrol this community and perform our functions with the help of the residents. If you are a Sun City West resident with a valid U.S. driver’s license, please consider joining us. Contact the Sun City West Posse at 623-584-5808 or stop in at our headquarters, 20450 Stardust Blvd., 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday. We want you to see what we do — take a tour — and invite you to join us!
Editor’s Note: Myron Finegold is Sun City West Posse commander.